Bill O’Reilly: Sure, Slaves Helped Build The White House, But They Were “Well Fed”

Bill O’Reilly: Sure, Slaves Helped Build The White House, But They Were “Well Fed”

Apparently, not everybody was absolutely in awe of the First Lady’s mic-dropping Monday night DNC speech.

Predictably, conservative white dudes took exception to the fact that Michelle Obama correctly noted that the White House was built by slaves. In response to Mrs. Obama pointing out this little historical tidbit while recounting the first time she stepped foot in her current digs, recovering(?) pill-popper and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh stated that the first black POTUS and FLOTUS “can’t stop talking about slavery” and need to get over it.

Meanwhile, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly decided to go a whole other route — slave apologist! The former Inside Edition host waxed poetic on Tuesday’s The O’Reilly Factor about how good those slaves that worked on the White House had it. I mean, they got food and sleeping quarters! What more could they have asked for?

From Media Matters’ transcript of the segment (emphasis mine):

BILL O’REILLY (HOST): Finally tonight, Factor Tip of The Day. As we mentioned, Talking Points Memo, Michelle Obama referenced slaves building the White House in referring to the evolution of America in a positive way. It was a positive comment. The history behind her remark is fascinating. George Washington selected the site in 1791, and as president laid the cornerstone in 1792. Washington was then running the country out of Philadelphia.

Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House. Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites, and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here.

In 1800, President John Adams took up residence in what was then called the Executive Mansion. It was only later on they named it the White House. But Adams was in there with Abigail, and they were still hammering nails, the construction was still going on.

Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.


I just can’t get rid of that history teacher thing. You know what I’m talking about?

Oh, I think we know what you’re talking about, Bill. You’re coming through loud and clear.

Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Fox News:


Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.